US manufacturers improve energy efficiency

The National Association of Manufacturers said Wednesday 85% of US manufacturers have improved the energy efficiency of their plants and offices over the last 5 years, while the relative price of energy increased only slightly.


Washington, DC�The National Association of Manufacturers said Wednesday 85% of US manufacturers have improved the energy efficiency of their plants and offices over the last 5 years, while the relative price of energy increased only slightly.

The study said, �When manufacturers reduce energy usage by just 10%, they shave $18 billion off their energy consumption costs.�

Large and small users alike chose to make improvements in a number of broad areas, namely: lighting; heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems (HVAC); and plant motors and machinery.

And it said another motivator for manufacturers was their voluntary commitment to improving the environment beyond any regulatory requirements. While nearly 60% foresee electricity restructuring saving them up to 20% on their utility bills, a significant number would consider taking additional voluntary steps, such as developing an energy efficiency information campaign for employees.

Manufacturing accounts for more than 40% of all US energy use and was responsible for 30% of US economic growth in the 1990s. The survey was commissioned by the Manufacturing Institute, NAM�s education and research affiliate.

Bill Canis, the institute�s executive director, said, �Although manufacturers are positive about taking voluntary steps to improve energy efficiency, most have chosen not to participate in voluntary government energy efficiency programs. Of those who are involved in joint programs, most said they participate primarily in those offered at the state or local level.�

Among the survey's findings:

� About three-fourths made lighting efficiency improvements in some or all of their plants, while nearly half did so in some or all of their offices.

� More than half made HVAC improvements in both their plants and offices.

� More than half improved the efficiency of motors and machinery in some or all of their plants.

� Nearly 4 in 10 trained facility managers in energy-efficient practices.

� About 1 in 3 benchmarked against baseline energy use.

Small users of energy were almost as likely to have made productivity-enhancing efficiency improvements as large users, according to the survey. For example, among respondents who reported annual energy costs between $25,000 and $50,000/year, more than 55% said they had made HVAC improvements in at least some of their offices.

Nearly 40% ranked "voluntarily helping the environment" as their second most important reason for improving the energy efficiency of their US facilities. Environmental emissions regulations ranked as a distant third.

One way in which manufacturers haven�t seen their energy efficiency improve is through use of the internet. More than two-thirds of respondents said that e-commerce with customers and suppliers has had "no effect" on energy use, with a similar percentage reporting that having workers telecommute from home has had no effect on plant and office energy use.

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